February 21, 2003

Air Formation "Ends in Light"

That word "shoegazer." Whenever I hear it used, that mental book of rock cliches opens up, and certain things happen; My Bloody Valentine gets mentioned, and a lot of talk happens about whether or not said band does the genre justice, and whether or not their music preserves or desecrates the sacred, hallowed ground of 1990. It almost seems as if the style thrives on its past with very little growth, and artists that happen to make this kind of music have to live up to a set of impossible and pointless standards.

Case in point--Air Formation's latest record, Ends in Light. It's easy to assume --and not entirely unfair to say--that they fall into the s***g***r genre, as all of the ingredients are there. You know the drill; loud sheaths of sound; vocals so dreamy, they're narcotic; an ambient drone lurking underneath, and a sweet, haunting melody liberally splattered on top of it all. Do you mind? Should you mind? When properly mixed, all of these things make for great music.

Air Formation utilizes all of these qualities, and thankfully, they never overwhelm you with their tricks, sticking to more conservative brushes, as opposed to grand, sweeping strokes. As a result, Ends In Light never fails to be anything less than a sweet, smoked-out, blissed-out trip of a record. Sure, they're not doing anything that Guthrie and Raymonde didn't perfect nearly twenty years ago, but who cares? Listening to "Brightest Star At Night," "Clearer Closed," or the drop-dead gorgeous "Still," you really won't care.

Good music will always rise to the surface, and Air Formation fly (ahem) higher than many of their post-s***g***r colleagues. Ends In Light is a wonderful little record that makes Air Formation sounds much, much larger than three men. Perfect music for a gray, rainy day, as I've discovered today. You couldn't ask for a nicer record.

--Joseph Kyle

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